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The Antelope

Former commissioner views MIAA admission as ‘natural fit’ 

Lindenwood joined the conference at the same time as the Lopers, but has since moved to Division I. File Photo

When the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association was in the midst of expansion mode turning into the 2010s, UNK seemed like a natural fit to join.

The Lopers have regularly competed against MIAA schools since the 1970s.

“UNK had a significant history with a number of MIAA schools going way back to the old CICC,” Bob Boerigter, former commissioner of the MIAA from 2010-2017 said. “You know they had competed against Fort Hays, Emporia State, Washburn, Missouri Western and Pittsburg State, all in that league. So all of those schools, when anyone talked about UNK, spoke about them on very favorable terms.”

The Central States Intercollegiate Conference was an NAIA conference that UNK competed in from 1976-1989. The Lopers competed against many of the teams they still play today in the MIAA, alongside Wayne State. 

Boerigter, commonly known around the MIAA as “Dr. Bob”, was also familiar with the university, being the athletic director at nearby Hastings College from 1988-2001.

“While I was there, Hastings College competed against the old Kearney State, then Nebraska-Kearney,” Boerigter said. “So I saw a number of events there firsthand, either as a visiting athletic director or a general sports fan.” 

When UNK joined the MIAA from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference before the 2012-2013 season, they were joined by Central Oklahoma, Northeastern State and Lindenwood. Lindenwood joined from the NAIA ranks, while Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma left the Lone Star Conference for the MIAA. Other teams were also considered for expansion at the time.

“Rockhurst University, which is in downtown Kansas City, had expressed interest in joining the MIAA,” Boerigter said. “But Rockhurst did not sponsor football, so that was a major problem, so there were just some informal conversations with them.”

The MIAA lost one of those members that joined with the Lopers in 2012, as Lindenwood moved up to Division I, becoming members of the Ohio Valley Conference. Boerigter was frustrated with coaches wanting to jump to the Division I ranks.

In the second round of the Division II football playoffs, Lindenwood met up with Northwest Missouri State. The Bearcats defeated the Lions 63-7 in Lindenwood’s final Division II game.

“All of their comments came to a head that day, in Bearcat green,” Boerigter said. “I don’t know if they were carrying the banner of all those frustrated schools, but that’s what happened.”

 The Bearcats would finish the 2019 season 12-2, falling in the next round to Ferris State in the Super Region final. Their regular season loss? A 24-17 Loper victory at Ron & Carol Cope Stadium.

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